What is the particular thing that you are struggling with today? It’s wonderful if you are having a peaceful, restful day and aren’t faced with troubles, but perhaps you have a problem to solve, or you will do so in the days ahead.
Are you struggling with problems specific to the pandemic, or ongoing issues that you faced before?
In this world, we all face trouble or struggles of some kind or another, no one is immune to them, even if it seems or even if it is the case that some people have it ‘easier’ than others.
Are you struggling with mental health challenges, health issues, job or finance troubles or family problems? Do you face loneliness, boredom, or a lack of a sense of purpose? Are you fearful about the future, or facing grief or loss of some sort, or are you missing friends and family and the ‘way things used to be’? Are you mentally and emotionally fatigued because of all the bad news in the world or simply facing household tasks that you wish would do themselves? Are you worried about your children, your spouse, your lack of human connections, or not sure what to do next with your life? Is the weather getting you down?
Whatever your challenges in life today, while I could encourage you and provide advice and guidance, reassurance or support in the words that I write, instead I challenge you to take a step back.
Take a deep breath, define your problem or issue in words, and perhaps write it down.
Take another deep breath. Now, make a choice to reorient yourself with finding a solution, rather than being brought low by the problem. Of course, it is ok to feel down, to feel low, and life is full of things that crush us such as abuse, mental illness, grief and loss, and it is important to fully face these human emotions and experiences. But if you are ready, and if it is time for you, then look up and consider what you would say to someone else who needed help or advice with the very thing you are facing.
Sometimes we look to others for advice, when all along, there is something we can learn from ourselves if we’d listen. Ultimately, the True Source of wisdom is The One True and Living God, our Creator.
Yet, sometimes we can help ourselves by considering what we would say to someone else.
What if the thing you are struggling with today was the problem of a friend? Imagine that they or a stranger were to come to you for advice on this same issue. What would you tell them? How would you treat them? What compassion would you give them and what wisdom would you share?
Take a deep breath and look once more at the problem you started with and now look at the answer you gave to your ‘friend’. Consider that this might be the next step for you to take in moving forwards, and take that one small step and keep on going.
Medication: If you are taking medicine that is prescribed by your doctor, make sure you have an adequate supply, and that you are able to get your repeat prescriptions on time. Check in advance that you will have enough medicine for the days when doctors surgeries, pharmacies, etc. will be closed over the holidays so that you don’t run out. Ask someone for accountability to help make sure you are taking the medication as per your doctor’s advice, and if you feel foggy, hazy or forgetful, keep a log or tick off your calendar so that you know when you have taken or need to take your doses. If you need any help or advice regarding your medication please consult your doctor as soon as possible.
It’s that beautiful and thought-provoking time of year again, filled with contrasts on so many levels. Autumn is passing, and winter is almost upon us. The vibrancy of leaves bursting into exciting shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, green and brown, will in a short time give way to bare or sparse branches, a stillness, perhaps darker, colder, greyer days, and maybe even a hint of snow.
Perhaps you live in a warmer and sunnier clime than I do, but here people are beginning to sense the change in the air, and it’s that time again to stay indoors, to get warm and cosy and prepare for in a sense a mini ‘hibernation’.
People approach such times of the year differently. You may have read my previous post to encourage and help those of us who might find certain aspects of these seasons at least a little bit challenging. The link is below for those of you who would like to read it or be reminded of some of the things you can do to prepare yourself.
However, I’m also going to start a series of shorter, more ‘bitesized’ posts to encourage us on various aspects of how we can survive and thrive during the winter season, so that you can dip in and out of the ones that interest you. So watch this space, I’ll be posting more very soon. Stay warm and cosy 🙂 x
I’ve started a new blog to provide free help, support and advice for children who are being bullied. I also hope to provide help for adults like myself overcoming the effects of childhood bullying, and advice for parents, friends and carers.
My new blog is one day old, so please be patient while I get things going. It is so important that our children and young people get the help they need, and if you know a young person who can benefit, please look at this along with them or share the link. There are so many bad influences online that I have created a safe place for children and adults to find healing, encouragement and help. It means so much if this helps even one person. Please share the encouragement. Thank you.
‘Life as it happens to me’ has me at a point where I am attempting to climb a proverbial mountain. I am by nature a ‘night owl’. I love the idea of being a morning person, and the few times I have been able to have a good stretch of time in the morning has been really good. I know that there is research about people’s circadian rhythms that mean some people are more inclined to being either ‘larks’ or ‘owls’, and it’s hard to fight against it. Hard perhaps, but maybe not impossible…I’m sure it has been done. I am also a very creative person, and so it is not easy for me to turn my thoughts and ideas off and have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to go in the morning.
The thing is, for me, there are extra dimensions to this ‘problem’. I went through a period of time when I was not able to have a full night’s undisturbed sleep for three years. It was exhausting, frightening and just a horrible time for me.
Additionally, I have anxiety, panic attacks and complex post traumatic stress which means night time can be difficult and if I get to sleep early I might still have nightmares, be unable to settle into a good sleep and wake up at various points during the night. So in the morning, I am not able to get up with my early alarm, and added to that I have the anxiety of getting ready and out the door, and am very rarely on time for things because of these added challenges to my body and brain. However, I have overcome so many other things in my life and this although I have tried time and time before is on my list. And friends, I need help!
I have read things, watched videos and sought advice on how to overcome this aspect of my life, but it is not something I have ever been able to sustain despite my efforts. Some aspects of healing of my conditions take time, but I am determined to get on top of things but it can get discouraging.
I need help to keep me accountable, to help me get on track in the first place, then stay on track, and although I’ve probably heard most of it all before, I need advice and helpful tips and tricks. I wish there was a switch that could just make things work, but there isn’t and society has its framework geared towards ‘morning people’. Any help, advice or stories from your own experience if your natural rhythm is more nocturnal would be so welcomed. I share a lot of advice on other life issues, but this is one I have no expertise on, so please help this frustrated little owl! 🙂 Thanks friends. xx
Summary of Approach so Far – Has it been Effective? Yes:
Well, day 3 of the retreat has arrived, and this is the final day. My approach to yesterday’s writing was not to set myself specific targets as to word count, as I did on day 1, but to focus on engaging more deeply and enjoying the creative process. Later that day I adapted my approach and set aside a time frame within which to write, but with a focus on the process and no set word count to aim for.
It turned out to be a freeing and productive approach and I have moved forwards in my writing. In case you are interested, total words written of my novel over days 1 and 2 is 6,142 words. This is something I have been working on over a number of years already, so I wasn’t starting from scratch and therefore already had a narrative and momentum in place. However, if you are approaching a retreat with the idea of producing something completely new, it is helpful to do some brainstorming before hand, to sketch out some rough ideas of what you want to focus on and write about so that you start your retreat with inspiration and not feeling at a loss as to what you are actually going to create.
As to where those words have taken me – I have been able to develop the narrative, the characterisation as well as introducing new characters. I’m happy with the quality of my writing, but I do think that I may come back to refine a few sentences at a later point. More deeply, the development of one of my protagonists, who is an expression of myself, has helped me to change the way I see myself and circumstances and potential for overcoming challenges in my own life, so that is definitely an aspect of the retreat that will stay in my heart and that I will take forwards into everyday life.
Morning of Day 3:
Taking time aside for a personal retreat, laying aside many of the usual daily distractions and everyday ‘noise’ to focus on a particular task can be very beneficial on a number of levels. However, it can also be a time when in a healing sense, difficult things can rise to the surface of our hearts, that we might be tempted to ‘stuff down’, especially during our usual busy routines. This can be challenging but also in the long term freeing if we allow ourselves to work through things to come out stronger on the other side, rather than running from them.
Final day, anxiety, and tips for maintaining momentum once you re-enter the ‘real world’:
Anxiety issues are bothering me again, but I can choose how to think and react to these unpleasant feelings. I have suffered for many years from anxiety, panic and PTSD, but I am overcoming them. That aside, in general, people may feel a sense of restlessness, anxiety and even panic when their retreat is drawing to a close.
Suddenly you are more aware of the shortness of time, you may not have accomplished what you set out to do, you may have a mess around you to tidy and have to prepare for ‘going back’ to your everyday world and routine, and after having been safely tucked away in your own creative space without having to contend with other people’s problems, thoughts, demands or chatter, it can be a source of anxiety to conclude a retreat well.
I realise that I am partly in this state, but I have found breaking things down, and blogging the process has been entirely beneficial and productive for me, and hopefully interesting to you in considering your own retreat needs, approaches and expectations.
To keep from feeling overwhelmed, I am just approaching each bit of the day as it comes. This morning I had breakfast, spent time in prayer, and listening to Psalm 119 online as it sometimes helps me to concentrate on the Word when hearing it audibly.
It is currently just after 10am, and I am blogging this update, while listening to calming instrumental background music to help manage the anxiety. This morning, I have new thoughts and developments that I’d like to write more about in my novel, so I may spend a little time doing that. However, I feel like I am also in a good place with it in terms of ‘next steps’ having had this concentrated writing time, as there are some details that I will need to research and this will enable me to have a task in mind for when I do go back into my day to day life and have less focussed writing time – I can leisurely look into researching certain things that I am including in some upcoming scenes for when I do get another chance to sit down and write.
It’s good to have something like that so that once you move into a busier routine when you have other commitments to balance, if that is also the case for you, then you won’t just be left feeling like your project has come to a halt. Maybe there are aspects of your book or project you can research, talk to people about, take notes, prepare ideas and so forth without actually having to write about them at that stage. That will help you keep the momentum going and allow yourself time to think and ‘mull over’ ideas for when the time comes around again for more focussed writing.
It’s now 10.18am, and I will spend a modest amount of time writing and laying down some ideas, and points for future research, that I can explore in more depth at a later point.
Update at 11.37am: I wrote an additional 227 words of my novel this morning, and as the new concepts and scenes I have begun to introduce are a little bit ‘bigger than me’ at the moment, I will need to spend time in prayer, reading, researching, thinking and seeking wisdom as to how to develop them further. So, with those exciting challenges ahead, I am concluding the novel writing part of the retreat, having written a grand 3 day total of 6,369words, and feeling Thankful to God.
With the nights growing longer, and the days colder, as leaves begin to turn from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, and then fade once more into grey, and fall and turn to dust, the evenings have become a perfect time for some cosy indoor activities.
So, I am attempting to learn to draw. I have always loved to doodle, but I have never taken an art class in my life, and I have never really known where to begin. I’m no artist, just a beginner, and I would love to learn and develop so much more.
This week I have been sketching and watching You Tube videos in my attempt to figure out just where to start. Here are four completed pictures that I have done. They aren’t great, as I’m just a beginner, but they made me smile and I hope they make you smile too.
I would love to hear from people who have been drawing for a while, and for whom art is ‘their thing’. Do you have any advice for a newbie / beginner? And any feedback on what I have done in my first week?
Thanks so much. Hoping to come across some blogs with some beautiful and interesting original artwork to help inspire me in this creative journey.